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April 21st - OC Transpo proposes criteria to guide potential future transit service reductions

OC Transpo proposes evaluation criteria to guide potential future transit service reductions and provides updates on 2020 performance measures

The Transit Commission today approved a report outlining OC Transpo’s recommended transit service evaluation criteria if transit service cuts are required in the future. The report provides next steps if Council directs OC Transpo to make cuts to transit services and provides specific criteria that staff will use to assess all potential service cuts.

The City’s transit budget is expected to be largely covered by the combined result of $30 million in operating savings and up to $90 million in capital budget adjustments that were included in the City’s 2021 budget, plus $135.3 million in funding expected from the federal and provincial governments. The service cut criteria could be required if lower transit ridership continues into 2022 because of COVID-19, and if the resulting loss of fare revenue is not covered by the federal and provincial governments.

The report identifies several factors to consider when exploring closing the funding gaps through transit service cuts, including impacts on disadvantaged groups, impacts on essential mobility, the ability of the transit system to return to 2019 levels and greater in the future, and impacts on the mobility and urban design goals approved by Council in the Transportation Master Plan and the Official Plan.

The report’s recommended criteria when selecting any required service cuts emphasize the need for customer consultation in selecting cuts that provide the greatest savings while impacting the fewest customers, all while retaining a good and useful citywide transit service. The criteria emphasize that service cuts should be avoided where they have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations, and that all cuts should be reviewed through the City’s equity and inclusion lens.

OC Transpo also provided the first of its twice-annual performance reports for the period from January 2020 to December 2020, following Transit Commission’s approval of OC Transpo’s performance reporting metrics at the Commission’s meeting on February 17, 2021. These performance metrics include customer safety, ridership, customer service, and service reliability.

To better track customer safety, the Transit Commission approved the addition of two measures: the crime rate on the transit system and the rate of injuries requiring treatment by paramedics but not requiring transport to hospital.

The Transit Commission received an update on O-Train Line 1 and bus service operations. Train service reliability remains high, and preparations for upcoming track work are underway. The 11-train peak-period service schedule that was implemented in March will be extended until the end of July. Ridership in March was at 26 percent of usual levels and is expected to remain low until the current stay-at-home order and school closures end.

Finally, Transit Commission passed a motion by Councillor Glen Gower, directing the Commission Chair to write to Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, with a copy to the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, to emphasize the role of transit workers in enabling essential work to continue in the City of Ottawa, and ask that this be shared with the Ottawa Vaccine Sequencing Taskforce.

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